WATAUGA COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
TUESDAY, JANUARY 16, 2001
The Watauga County Board of Commissioners held a regular meeting on Tuesday, January 16, 2001 at 7:00 P.M. in the Board Room of the Watauga County Courthouse.
PRESENT: Jimmy Hodges, Chairman
James Coffey, Vice-Chairman
Jack Lawrence, Sr., Commissioner
Sue Sweeting, Commissioner
Pat Wilkie, Commissioner
Jeff Hedrick, County Attorney
Robert E. Nelson, Jr., County Manager
Libby Link, Clerk to the Board
Chairman Hodges called the meeting to order at 7:00 P.M. welcoming those in attendance.
APPROVAL OF JANUARY 16, 2001 AGENDA
Chairman Hodges called for additions or corrections to the January 16, 2001 agenda.
Commissioner Sweeting requested an amendment to the agenda in order for the Board to review the Board of Education’s Public School Facility Needs Survey. It was agreed to add this item to the agenda as Item 5A and for Mr. David Triplett to address the Board as the Board of Education’s representative.
Commissioner Sweeting seconded by Vice-Chairman Coffey, moved to approve the January 16, 2001 agenda with the amendment.
PUBLIC HEARING – COUNTY GOVERNMENT
ANNOUNCED CABLE RATE INCREASE
Chairman Hodges declared a public hearing open at 7:01 P.M. to consider changes to Charter Communications’ basic service rates. (Clerk’s note: Although the Board had no control over the rate increase, the County’s cable franchise ordinance allowed the Board to conduct a public hearing to consider the rate increase(s).)
Mr. Tony Barlage, Charter Communications Regional Manager, addressed the Board stating Charter Communications proposed the following rate increase effective January 1, 2001:
Old Rate New Rate
Limited Basic $13.45 $13.45
Supervalue Basic $32.89 $34.88
Mr. Barlage explained that over the past year Charter Communications had hired six additional employees, launched Charter Digital Cable with over 150 channels, continued to rebuild and upgrade its system including the Zionville and Meat Camp communities. In addition, Customers who received the Supervalue Basic package would receive the Cartoon Network beginning in March, 2001. Mr. Barlage stated that due to these additions and system upgrades, the rate increase was necessary. Commissioner Sweeting thanked Mr. Barlage for not raising the Limited Basic rate.
Mr. Howard Dorgan, Chair of the Town of Boone Cablevision Advisory Board, addressed the Board and voiced his concerns relative to Charter Communications’ rate increase. He noted that Charter Communications had increased its Supervalue Basic rate by $6 in less than a year. In addition, Mr. Dorgan felt that citizens had no voice in regards to programming and the number of channels offered. He encouraged Charter Communications to conduct a survey to ascertain Customers’ preference in regards to programming.
Mr. Barlage stated Charter Communications’ programming included the Disney channel, golf, food network, and travel channels that were all very popular. In addition, Charter Communications had purchased an entire fleet of new vehicles and was committed to providing County residents with good service and a good product.
There being no further public comment, Chairman Hodges declared the public hearing closed at 7:22 P.M.
GOLDEN LEAF FOUNDATION GRANT
Ms. Sue Counts, Director of the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service, (N.C. CES) addressed the Board stating notification had been received from the Golden Leaf Foundation that the County was eligible to receive $50,000 to support its “High Country Sustainable Agriculture Project”. Ms. Counts explained that at the Board’s October 2, 2000 regular meeting, the Board had granted permission to submit the grant application to the Golden Leaf Foundation. She noted the funding would be used to hire a part-time employee as well as necessary equipment and supplies. Ms. Counts stated the Foundation would release 80% of the funds ($40,000) once the grantee’s acknowledgment was received. The remaining 20% of the total amount would be retained by the Foundation until the completion of the Grantee’s obligations under this grant, including the Grantee’s submission of a final report of the project funded. Ms. Counts requested the Board’s approval to receive the funds in the amount of $50,000 and revised budget to reflect the additional funding.
Commissioner Sweeting seconded by Commissioner Wilkie, moved to approve the funds received from the Golden Leaf Foundation and the required budget amendment as requested.
HEALTH DEPARTMENT BUILDING REVIEW
Mr. Randy Jones, David R. Jones Architecture, reviewed the preliminary schematic drawings for the new Appalachian District Health Department (ADHD) building. He stated he had worked closely with Mr. Danny Staley, Director of the ADHD, to ensure the staff’s needs would be accommodated. Mr. Jones anticipated the construction cost would be $2.5-$2.8 million. Mr. Staley reviewed the programs offered through the ADHD for adults and children. The Board and Mr. Jones discussed several amendments to the layout of the office space. Mr. Jones stated he was very excited about the project and felt a new building would allow sufficient space for offices and storage for the ADHD staff as well as the public’s needs. He anticipated soliciting bids by mid-May with a construction start-up date for June 1, 2001. In addition, Mr. Jones estimated the total project would take 15 months for completion. Mr. Staley stated he was excited about the new building and was anxious to get started.
It was the consensus of the Board for Mr. Jones to proceed with this project with the amendments as discussed.
BOARD OF EDUCATION PUBLIC SCHOOL FACILITY NEEDS SURVEY
Mr. David Triplett, Director of Physical Operations with the Board of Education, reviewed the Board of Education’s Public School Facility Needs Survey. Mr. Triplett stated that every five years the State required each school system to consider its long range plans. He briefly discussed the County schools’ capacity summary and plan as well as a cost summary. Mr. Triplett informed the Board that a computer program calculated the data, and based on the information received indicated that the school system currently had more capacity than students. He also presented the Board with a handout (Capital Project List) which indicated projects and costs for each of the County’s schools. Mr. Triplett added the State required the Board of Education to review the survey with the Board of Commissioners. This item was for the Board’s information, and no action was taken.
HOUSEHOLD HAZARDOUS WASTE PROPOSAL
Mr. J. V. Potter, Operation Services Director, reviewed a proposal for a household hazardous waste collection day in the County. Mr. Potter stated the following proposals were received:
Safety-Kleen (TS) - $2400 (set-up fee) (this fee included the labor cost for six employees and transporting the waste to Safety Kleen’s facility).
Heritage Environmental Services - $2500 (set-up fee) (this fee did not include labor cost - $50.00/hour per man, 7 people at 8 hours = $2800 or the transportation cost of $550 per load).
Mr. Potter recommended the Board approve the proposal received from Safety-Kleen (TS). He stated funds had been budgeted for this project (not to exceed $20,000). In addition, the collection would be held on a Saturday in April or May in cooperation with the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service who would handle the pesticides collected and the Town of Boone who would provide traffic control and standby emergency assistance.
Commissioner Wilkie asked Mr. Potter if County staff could handle this project. County Manager Nelson responded that this 1-day collection of household hazardous waste was part of the County’s 3-year Solid Waste Plan as submitted to the N.C. DENR-Division of Waste Management. Commissioner Wilkie requested the County to consider providing this service for citizens on an on-going basis.
Commissioner Wilkie seconded by Commissioner Sweeting, moved to approve this request contingent upon County Attorney Hedrick’s approval.
ASU FACILITY USE PROPOSAL
Ms. Deb Wynne, Parks & Recreation Director, stated she had been contacted by Appalachian State University’s (ASU) Athletics Director (Mr. Roachel Laney) to use one of the County’s athletic fields during the spring and fall for ASU’s women’s fast pitch softball team. Ms. Wynne added that ASU had always allowed the County to use its facilities when needed. She noted that ASU would use the fields for practice from 2:00 P.M.-4:30 P.M. which would not interfere with the County’s use (games rarely began before 5:30 P.M. or 6:00 P.M.) Ms. Wynne would work closely with Mr. Laney to schedule use of the field to avoid any conflicts, and the County would be in charge. In addition, ASU would pay the County $5,000 annually for use of the field, and Ms. Wynne recommended the Board’s approval.
Commissioner Sweeting seconded by Commissioner Lawrence, moved to allow Appalachian State University to use one of the County’s athletic fields contingent upon County Attorney Hedrick’s approval of the lease.
Ms. Doris Isaacs, Finance Director, presented the following budget amendments for Board approval:
Account # Description Debit Credit
143583-333000 JCPC-State Grant 6,880
145890-469803 Project Challenge-JCPC 4,880
145890-469809 Watauga Youth Network-JCPC 2,000
Budget amendment to recognize additional JCPC funds available from the State. Local match is being provided by the agencies receiving the funding.
Account # Description Debit Credit
103300-349510 Golden Leaf Grant 50,000
104951-412600 Salaries-part-time 10,000
104951-418100 Social Security/Medicare 1,700
104951-418600 Worker’s Compensation 300
104951-429000 Supplies 6,500
104951-431100 Travel-Mileage 300
104951-431200 Travel-Subsistence 700
104951-439500 Employee Training 2,500
104951-449100 Dues & Subscriptions 3,500
104951-452000 Capital Outlay-DP Equip. 10,000
104951-469500 Contracted Services-Consultant 14,500
To recognize the Golden Leaf Grant award and the appropriate expenditure codes. The N.C. Cooperative Extension Service would administer this grant. The recommended budget is an estimate and might need minor adjustments during the grant period January 1, 2001 through December 31, 2001.
Vice-Chairman Coffey seconded by Commissioner Sweeting, moved to approve the budget amendments as presented.
MISCELLANEOUS ADMINISTRATIVE MATTERS
A. Boards & Commissions – County Manager Nelson stated the following members’ terms expired in February, 2001 on the Home and Community Care Block Grant Project on Aging Advisory Committee: Mr. Jim Atkinson, Ms. Angie Boitnotte, Ms. Debbie Edwards, Ms. Judy Vernon, Ms. Linda Bretz, Mr. Joe Howser, and Mr. Ottis Powell. All of these individuals had agreed to continue to serve. Mr. Nelson added that Mr. A. M. Denton, Jr. had served on this Committee but was deceased, and the Project on Aging recommended Mr. Ed Harrell to fill this vacancy.
Commissioner Sweeting seconded by Vice-Chairman Coffey, moved to approve the individuals’ names as submitted.
County Manager Nelson stated Ms. Glenda Trivette’s term expired in February, 2001 on the Watauga County Adult Care Home Community Advisory Committee. He added Ms. Trivette had agreed to continue to serve.
Vice-Chairman Coffey seconded by Commissioner Lawrence, moved to re-appoint Ms. Glenda Trivette to the Watauga County Adult Care Home Community Advisory Committee for a 3-year term.
County Manager Nelson noted the following members’ terms expired in December, 2000 on the Watauga County Parks & Recreation Commission: Ms. Laura Johnson (representing Cove Creek Elementary School) and Mr. Joe Robinson, III (representing the Town of Boone). Notification was received from Cove Creek School and the Town of Boone requesting Ms. Johnson and Mr. Robinson, III be re-appointed to the Watauga County Parks & Recreation Commission. Dr. Bob Richardson had served on the Commission as the Board of Education’s representative but no longer served on the Board of Education. Therefore, notification was received that the Board of Education nominated Mr. Joe Isaacs to fill this vacancy. In addition, Ms. Patricia Reese (representing Bethel Elementary School) had resigned her position, and Bethel Elementary School recommended Mr. Mike Fox to fill that vacancy (term to expire December, 2002).
Vice-Chairman Coffey seconded by Commissioner Wilkie, moved to re-appoint Ms. Laura Johnson and Mr. Joe Robinson, III and appoint Mr. Joe Isaacs and Mr. Mike Fox to serve on the Watauga County Parks & Recreation Commission.
B. Future Appointments – County Manager Nelson informed the Board that Ms. Sara Spann had served on the Watauga County Nursing Home Community Advisory Committee but had expired. Therefore, the Board needed to make a new appointment at a future meeting.
This future appointment was for the Board’s information, and no action was taken.
C. Discussion of Retreat Agenda – County Manager Nelson briefly discussed the topics on the tentative retreat agenda scheduled for February 2-3, 2001 at Chetola Resort, Blowing Rock, N.C. Commissioner Wilkie requested Mr. Nelson provide for the Board’s review a report (update) of what topics were discussed at the Board’s March 17-18, 2000 retreat and the status of each item.
D. Announcements – County Manager Nelson stated the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service would host its annual Report to the People Luncheon on March 5, 2001 at 12:00 P.M. in the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service conference room.
In addition, County Manager Nelson announced that the County had received notification from Mr. Ty Dahl, the attorney assigned by the County’s insurance company, that the lawsuit filed by D. Timothy Wilson and Watauga Ambulance Service, Inc. against the County, Commissioner Sweeting and former Commissioner Kohles had been remanded back to state court (the federal court had declined jurisdiction). Mr. Nelson stated that Mr. Dahl would keep the County informed as the lawsuit progressed.
PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD
No one in attendance addressed the Board. However, Commissioner Lawrence noted the County had received a letter from Robert S. Segal, CPA PA, who had worked with the County to review expenses that the County paid for a number of items (as discussed at the Board’s September 5, 2000 regular meeting). The letter noted that out of the millions of dollars Watauga County spent each year, Robert S. Segal, CPA PA, found few opportunities for reducing expenses. Commissioner Lawrence stated he was very pleased when he read the letter and commended staff for their job performance. Finance Director, Doris Isaacs, stated that credit was due to everyone in the Organization who worked well together to achieve positive results.
Commissioner Lawrence seconded by Vice-Chairman Coffey, moved to enter Closed Session at 8:37 P.M. to discuss: Land Acquisition, G.S. 143-318.11(a)(5)(i) and Attorney/Client Matters, G.S. 143-318.11(a)(3).
Following a brief recess, the Board entered Closed Session at 8:45 P.M.
Commissioner Sweeting seconded by Commissioner Lawrence, moved to resume the open meeting at 9:17 P.M.
Commissioner Sweeting seconded by Vice-Chairman Coffey, moved to adjourn the meeting at 9:17 P.M.
Jimmy Hodges, Chairman
Elizabeth H. Link, Clerk to the Board